Need for Speed The Run
AMD Phenom II X4 955
AMD Radeon HD 6950
The Run is EA's next installment of the long running Need For Speed franchise, but it is unlike previous games, as it's a racer with an actual, Hollywood style, story. Does the addition of a story give the franchise a boost, or does it stall and roll to an embarrassing halt?
The Run centers on the main character Jackson "Jack" Rourke, who is in a spot of bother with the Mob. He owes a lot of money, that he just can't repay. That is until a "friend", Sam, arrives on the scene and offers you a chance to repay the debt, ultimately saving your own life. Jack must, simply, race against 199 other drivers from San Francisco to New York for the massive $25,000,0000 prize money!
It's no shock that the story is very thin and doesn't exactly grab hold of you, but it actually helped me stick with the game. Most racers tend to bore me after a while, but due to the feeling of progression, thanks to The Run's story, I found myself sticking with it a lot longer than other racers. Not that the story is any good, in fact it's very minimal. I just felt more compelled to keep racing more so than any other, traditional, 'track racer'.
The addition of a story actually allowed the races to be mixed up a bit. Yes The Run is obviously still a typical racing game with the main objective - to be first. But the races do have a fair amount of variety which, I think, prevents it from becoming stale. Elimination races, rival races, time trials, on foot QTE's, evading the police (on foot or in car) all make up the guts of The Run.
She handles like a dream
The main story mode can be completed in a handful of hours, but there is a lot of incentive to keep The Run installed on your machine. Making a return from Hot Pursuit, AutoLog allows you to track your race times and compare them with your friends, creating an online competitive feel within a solo experience. However, instead of showing you how you did compared to your friends at the end of the race, AutoLog now tracks your second by second progress. As you race you will find information on your HUD as to how much faster, or indeed, slower you are than your friends.
Along with the Story mode and of course the traditional online mode (including the typical modes you have seen many times before) you have Challenge mode. Basically this is just a bunch of races you must complete to unlock new cars to use in the game (they can be used online and in the main campaign). It's nothing breathtaking, but it's a nice addition for once you've finished the story and want to just enjoy racing without the story.
Depending on difficulty level the player is given a chance to return to checkpoints, if they find themselves victim of a head on collision or an ill-fated cliff dive! Playing on Easy allows for more 'rewinds' than playing on Normal, but playing on Hard will require a full race restart if such an accident occurs. I played through on Normal and found the amount of 'rewinds' to be just right, it didn't feel like I had too many attempts, but it also made me cautious about using them up too soon in a race.
Heading off into the sunset
One of The Run's standout points is the fact it's running on DICE's Frostbite 2 engine and it looks incredible. The overall tracks/backdrops look simply beautiful. Whether you're racing through baron deserts or drifting down snowy mountain sides, you can't help but stop now and again and capture some real moments of beauty with the game's Photo Mode.
The game features a fair amount of licensed cars which all look great. The handling works well enough. It's not quite Shift and it's not quite Hot Pursuit. It lays somewhere in the middle and it works! The feel of 'arcadey realism' allows you to pull off some pretty impressive manoeuvres while racing!
Visually the game is outstanding, but the same can't be said about the audio. Now, the game doesn't sound bad, it's just the audio doesn't really stand out from any other racer. Dramatic music will kick in a key points which actually adds a sense of urgency and tension and cars sound decent enough, but as I said, nothing really stands out.
Need For Speed's 18th installment is a solid one. A pretty shallow story that's certainly not going to please everyone, incredible visuals, a fair amount of content and average audio combine to make a Need for Speed game that is extremely fun to play despite it's minor flaws. It was a bit of a gamble to add an actual story, while I liked the idea of there being a story, it just happened to not work fully this time around!
- Fast and Furious: Variety of races helps progress from becoming tiresome
- Things are looking FROSTY: Fantastic visuals thanks to the Frostbite 2 engine
- C'mon, keep up: Autolog times, challenges and online modes add to the longevity once the main Story has been completed
- Listen to it purr: Audio that does an okay job, but just doesn't really stand out.
- Worth an Oscar?: Short, forgettable story which could have been forgiven, but it was pushed massively, pre-release